King of Patan, Siddhraj Jaysingh attacked the city of Saurashtra during 1170 AD. He captured the erstwhile King Ra`Khengar and jailed him in his city. When Ra`Khengar passed away, at the behest of Bahad Mantri (minister), King Siddhraj Jaysingh appointed Sajjan Mantri as Governing officer of Saurashtra. Influential, wise and a person with great foresight, Sajjan Mantri won the hearts of the entire Saurashtra region.
He made Junagadh as central place to carry out all operations of Saurashtra. Once, when Sajjan Mantri went on a pilgrimage to Girnar Tirth, he was deeply anguished to see the dilapidated temples and ruined structures over there. At that time, Acharya Bhadreshwarsurishwarji of Raj Gaccha, who fasted every alternate day, was the guru of Sajjan Mantri. He told Sajjan Mantri: ‘Those who restore the glory of dilapidated and ruined temples, restore the glory of their own soul i.e. they purify their soul and rise above the Sansar Samudra (the ocean of life and death). He also added that the person undertaking this restoration work gets to enjoy the pleasures of paradise for as many lakh years as are the number of particles in the marbles, granites and other stones used in the restoration work. And the ones who restore such dilapidated temples get 8 times more Punya (merit) than the ones who build new temples.’ Hearing this, Sajjan Mantri resolved to undertake the restoration work. Even Acharya Bhadreshwarsurishwarji fasted for 3 consecutive days along with Sajjan Mantri and invoked Ambika Devi seeking her help to see the restoration work go through without any hurdles. Ambika Devi appeared before Acharya Bhagwant and asked the reason for invoking her, to which Acharya Bhagwant told: ‘ O Devi! This Sajjan Mantri wants to restore the Nemnath Temple at Girnar. Please bless him and show him the mines from which he can acquire best stones for restoring temples’. Ambika Devi replied: ‘ Ok! But Sajjan Mantri ‘s lifespan is short’. With the help of Ambika devi, Sajjan Mantri, knowing that this restoration work will help him acquire enough good merits before his life runs short, began the restoration work with great excitement. And with Ambika Devi’s help, the temple of Lord Neminath got readied till the Kalash (the top-most structure of the temple) and was restored to its original glory. An expenditure of 72 Lakh Dramm (a form of coins/ currency used at that time) was incurred in carrying out this restoration work. Sajjan Mantri decided to use the funds from the treasury of Saurashtra that comprised of revenues generated for 3 years from Saurashtra – he believed that he would be able to pay this back (to the treasury) when the time comes by raising funds from the Shravakas (Jain lay people).
Seeing such glory of newly restored Girnar Tirth, some people became envious of Sajjan Mantri and could not stand the admiration he received. These people, out of jealousy, went to King Siddhraj and said: ‘O Great King!, Sajjan Mantri has not deposited even a single penny in the King’s treasury. Surely, there is some wrong-doing happening under him.’ Hearing this, King Siddhraj got furious and became anxious to go to Junagadh and check for himself the accounts of the treasury. On other side, Bahad Mantri got a sense of the situation and accordingly apprised Sajjan mantri of the intention of King Siddhraj. The wise Sajjan Mantri quickly grasped the state of affairs and prepared himself.
Busy with administration activities in Saurashtra as well as overseeing the restoration work of Girnar temples, Sajjan Mantri went to Vanthali village to raise funds for the treasury amount that was spent in the restoration of temples. He gathered the elders of the village and informed them of the restoration work and cost incurred while doing so. The people of village showed great eagerness in giving their share to complete the mammoth target of 72 lakh Dramm. Meanwhile a man with torn and soiled clothes entered the gathering and approached Sajjan Mantri and told: ‘O Great Minister! I am willing to give my very existence for this glorious Girnar. Then, why have would you strain yourself to raise this meagre amount? Please pity my poor soul and let me the beneficiary of the entire amount required for this cause! These fortunate people of the village get many occasions to spend their money for such good causes, but a person like me hardly gets any such opportunity. I will be blessed if you allow me to have this 2 cents worth of Punya.’ After saying these words, this man called “Bhima Sarthiya” expressed his wish to everyone present, touched the feet of Sajjan Mantri and begged for his consent. Moved by his feelings, Sajjan Mantri accepted his request. Based on Bhima Sarthiya’s pledge for funding the entire restoration work, Sajjan Mantri left for Junagadh.
Hearing that King Siddhraj has arrived in Jungadh, Sajjan Mantri organised a grand welcome. Upon entering the castle, Sajjan mantri bowed to the king and inquired about his well-being. At that time, the King who had been misled by his ministers to believe that Sajjan Mantri had misappropriated the treasury funds, straightaway asked Sajjan Mantri for the accounts of the past three years. Maintaining his composure, Sajjan Mantri firmly replied: ‘O Great Emperor! Accounts for each and every penny spent during the past three years are ready, but if you please, I request you to take some rest and get over the tiredness caused due to journey’. Seeing his calm posture and fearless countenance, the King’s exasperation too subsided. During the day, the King heard a lot of praise for Sajjan Mantri by the villagers and also heard about the restoration work of the temple of Lord Neminath on Girnar Tirth. The next day, the King Siddharaj called Sajjan Mantri and expressed his desire for a Yatra (pilgrimage) of the glorious Girnar.
Early next morning the king and Sajjan Mantri began climbing the hill. On seeing the majesty of newly renovated temple and the flags hovering gracefully in the wind, the King asked Mantri: ‘Who are those blessed parents whose sons have created this stunning temple?’ To this, Sajjan Mantri replied: ‘They are none other than your parents who were fortunate to give birth to such an Emperor with whose opulence this majestic temple was built’. Stunned on hearing this, the King asked the Mantri to reveal the mystery. To which, Sajjan Mantri said: ‘The revenue generated from the pious land of Saurashtra over the past three years was used for building this magnificent temple. And you being the King of Saurashtra, your parents Karnadev and Minaldevi are the blessed ones to have you as their son. You can name this temple as ‘Karna Prasad’ so that your father’s memory can be cherished forever. That said, if you still want the revenue income from Saurashtra generated over the past three years to be deposited in the treasury, then a Shravak from Vanathali named “Bhima Sahtriyo” is ready to pay the entire amount by himself. But, if you wish to uplift your soul by becoming the benefactor of this entire renovation work, then that option is available as well.’ On hearing these words of Sajjan Mantri, the King’s joy knew no bounds. He was filled with awe of Sajjan Mantri and told him: ‘If I were to get the invaluable benefit of restoring and building such a beautiful temple, then the three years of income means nothing to me. O Greatest of the Ministers! I beg for your forgiveness for all the doubts and misgivings that I had about you. I feel blessed to have availed the great fortune of restoring this temple.’
On the other side, having received no news from Sajjan Matri, Bhima Sathariya became wary and started getting anxious day by day and set out for Junagadh. He met Sajjan Mantri and inquired with him about the amount that he had pledged for the restoration work. Sajjan Mantri narrated to him the entire incident. On hearing this, Bhima was deeply shocked and saddened (because he would no longer be the fortunate one to get the benefit of restoring the temple). For a few moments, he just became speechless. After regaining his consciousness, he told: ‘O Greatest of the Ministers! The money I had pledged for restoration of the temple is of no use to me now. I sincerely request you to keep the money and use it wherever you deem fit’. Saying this, Bhima went back to Vanathali and sent to Sajjan Mantri carts filled with wealth that was kept aside for restoration purpose. The wise Sajjan Mantri used this money to build (1) “MerakVasahi’ temple that’s situated next to Lord Neminath’s main temple and (2) A huge reservoir that’s located close to the temples of the peak and named it ‘BhimKund’ in the memory of Bhima Sathariya.
Such was Sajjan Mantri, Such was King Siddhraj and Such was Bhima Sathariya.